Paul R. Hollrah
September 27, 2011
In a speech in Colorado Springs on July 2, 2008, Barack Obama ignored his teleprompter for a moment and spoke from the heart. He said, “We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded (as the military)...People of all ages, stations, and skills will be asked to serve.”
It brings to mind scenes from the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, East Germany, the People’s Republic of China, Cuba, North Korea, and more recently Venezuela, where every city, town, village, and neighborhood had(has) groups of citizens, called cells, who keep tabs on each other and their non-cell neighbors.
Farfetched? Most Americans ignore the possibility that Obama might attempt to copy his leftist counterparts in the communist, fascist, and socialist world. But Obama’s “brownshirts” may be closer to smashing down your front door than you think. Consider just a few recent incidents.
On Wednesday, August 24, heavily armed agents of the U.S. Department of Justice, carrying search warrants signed by a federal judge, raided facilities of the Gibson Guitar Company in Memphis and Nashville. The raid was similar to a previous raid carried out in November 2009 when more than a dozen federal agents, armed with automatic weapons, raided Gibson’s U.S. manufacturing facilities and confiscated more than $1 million worth of valuable wood products imported from Madagascar.
The Justice Department maintains that the wood confiscated in the 2009 raid was obtained in violation of Madagascan law. However, Gibson has in its possession documents from the Madagascan government, certifying that the wood seized in 2009 was legally exported under their laws and that no law has been violated.
This year’s raid appears to involve quantities of rosewood and ebony imported from India. According to Gibson, the Justice Department “has suggested that the use of wood from India that is not finished by Indian workers is illegal, not because of U.S. law, but because it is the Justice Department’s interpretation of the law in India…”
What was Gibson’s crime? Inasmuch as many Gibson guitars are produced by U.S. craftsmen, using rosewood and ebony imported from India, the Obama administration finds Gibson in violation of the Lacey Act. According to the Rainforest Alliance, “...the law makes it illegal to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase in interstate or foreign commerce any plant, with some limited exceptions, taken or traded in violation of the laws of the U.S., a U.S. State, or relevant foreign law (emphasis added).”
Because the ban on illegal timber, as defined in the Lacey Act, has not been defined by a clear set of regulations, it leaves the Obama administration a wide range of discretion to persecute businesses that may have displeased them. The law is so broad and ill-defined that, according to Gibson officials, a user can run into trouble even though they have no knowledge of a law in force in a foreign country.
Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz argues that, “We have letters from a very high-level government agency in India that says that this product was (an) allowable export. And in fact, we have been buying the same product for well over 17 years... Wood that we are buying is being bought by other companies in the industry and they have not had any kind of action...not so much as a letter or a postcard.”
What should give us all cause for concern, especially those of us who are among Obama’s most consistent critics, is the knowledge that C.F. Martin & Company, another leading guitar maker, uses the same imported woods. So exactly what is it that distinguishes Gibson from Martin? Chris Martin IV, CEO of the Martin guitar company, is reported to be a long-time Democratic Party contributor, donating tens of thousands of dollars to Barack Obama and other Democrats. By contrast, Gibson’s Juszkiewicz has a long history of supporting Republican candidates.
In another recent case, twenty-four federal agents raided Atlanta-based A-440 Pianos, which had imported a number of antique Austrian Bösendorfer pianos outfitted with 855 keys made of old ivory. According to an August 28, 2011 report in the Wall Street Journal, when A-440 was preparing to import the pianos, knowing that the piano keys were made of ivory more than 100 years old, they asked officials at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species how to prepare the necessary paperwork. Convention officials alerted U.S. Customs.
According to the Journal, “There was never any question that the instruments were old enough to have grandfathered ivory keys.” Unfortunately, A-440 executive Pascal Vieillard apparently did not have all of his paperwork in order when two-dozen federal agents swarmed into his warehouse. Facing a maximum sentence of one year in federal prison and a maximum fine of $100,000, Vieillard pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of violating the Lacey Act and was given a $17,500 fine and three years probation. His company faces a maximum fine of $500,000 and five years probation.
How long does it take for a piano importer, a small business, to earn $500,000 in net profits, and how many jobs will be lost because Obama’s “brownshirts” were unable to control themselves?
National Review Online was incredulous. They asked, “Two dozen federal agents? To raid a piano importer? Does the piano industry have a particular reputation for violent armed resistance? Or is it that the most footling bureaucrat now feels he has no credibility unless he’s got his own elite commando team? …But look at it this way: Imagine if, instead of 24 agents, the federal piano police had to make do with a mere dozen to raid a small importer.”
In Barack Obama’s world, that would represent a real breakdown in law enforcement.
As a Republican activist who has experienced numerous threats on my life and on the lives of my wife and children, and as one who has been beaten unconscious by union thugs at a public political event, I have some sense of the level of violence that always exists just beneath the surface when Democrats and their leftist constituencies feel threatened. But all of those things happened at a time when the American people could have some faith that the rule of law was respected by the people and by law enforcement agencies alike.
We now live in a different era. We live at a time when the Attorney General of the United States feels no obligation to enforce the law against armed New Black Panther thugs who threaten and intimidate voters outside a polling place in Philadelphia...just because the thugs were there in support of Democratic candidates. We live at a time when violent union thugs are allowed to occupy the capitol building of a sovereign state...just because the Republican governor and the Republican members of the state legislature did the jobs they were elected to do. And we are living at a time when the executives of a failing “green energy” company can...after paying four visits to the White House...obtain a $537 million loan guarantee, and for no better reason than that Barack Obama needed a “poster child” for his ill-conceived “green energy” initiative.
Law-abiding citizens, I’m sure, held out some hope for justice when they saw televised reports of FBI agents hauling away dozens of cartons of documents from the headquarters of the failed Solyndra solar energy company in Fremont, California. But what they fail to consider is that the FBI reports to Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the United States, and that Holder reports to Barack Obama, whose reelection chances are in jeopardy. What viewers saw as a collection of evidence of massive political corruption may have been, in fact, the confiscation and destruction of evidence of massive political corruption.
With memories of the Kennedy assassination, Wounded Knee, Ruby Ridge, Waco, and the Oklahoma City bombing cover-up fresh in our minds, do we really trust the FBI to conduct a full and complete investigation of criminal conduct while they are under the direct supervision of political thugs such as Eric Holder and Barack Obama?
On August 23, a magnitude 5.8 earthquake, centered in the Piedmont region of Virginia, struck the east coast of the United States. Shortly after the quake, National Park Service officials discovered a four-foot long crack in a marble slab near the top of the Washington Monument, the 555 ft. tall obelisk honoring the venerable Father of our Country.
Park Service officials refused to confirm or deny reports that a large teardrop was seen oozing from the crack and running down the north face of the monument...the side facing the Obama White House.
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